Star (Kenya)

Feb. 15, 2017, 3:00 pm

Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses journalists outside the Supreme Court in Nairobi following a ruling for the release of seven doctors' union officials from prison, February 15, 2017. /COURTESY
Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses journalists outside the Supreme Court in Nairobi following a ruling for the release of seven doctors’ union officials from prison, February 15, 2017. /COURTESY

Cord leader Raila Odinga has called for a commission to address health workers’ concerns amid a strike that saw doctors jailed.

Health workers want a CBA they signed in 2013 fulfilled for their salaries to increase by 300 per cent and conditions in public hospitals to be improved.

Read: Inside the striking doctors’ 2013 collective bargaining agreement

Raila, who is Opposition leader, said the establishment of a commission was the only way their issues will be given the seriousness they deserve.

“The health sector needs a body like the TSC or SRC to help deal with grievances like what we have experienced in the last two months,” he said.

He addressed doctors at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Wednesday, flanked by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, following the Court of Appeal’s ruling for the ‘CBA 7′ to be released from prison.

Cord leaders joined doctors who retreated to the park after the order by judges Wanjiru Karanja, Hannah Okwengu and Jamilla Mohamed.

Raila said the government and other stakeholders could have settled for negotiations instead of effecting the month-long term on KMPDU secretary general Ouma Oluga and six other officials.

The others are chairman Samuel Oroko, treasurer Daisy Korir, deputy treasurer Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro.

The Cord boss reiterated that the jailing was a show of failure by the government, which he described as having been dishonest amid efforts to end the crisis that has left many dead and sick people frustrated.

“The money the doctors are demanding, compared to what has been looted by the government, is peanuts. This shows you the lack of commitment and honesty by the government of the day,” he told an enthusiastic crowd.

The judges issued the order for the doctors’ union officials to be released after an appeal by Raila’s lawyers, led by Siaya Senator James Orengo.

The officials were jailed on Monday for contempt of court, after refusing to end the strike that began on December 5 last year.

Raila said he was happy with the ruling but noted that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration must take appropriate steps to resolve all strikes.

The Opposition leader blamed the government for the strike saying it had dragged on for too long.

He said the government has humiliated the doctors yet they deserve the best”.

“Jailing our doctors is dehumanising. It is not right to take doctors to Kamiti prison. It’s a shame and Kenyans have a right to elect another government in 2017,” he said.

[VIDEO] Doctors’ union officials jailed one month for contempt of court

Read: Raila happy with Court of Appeal ruling, says Jubilee humiliating doctors

The judges said negotiations will take place for seven days and that doctors and other parties will return to court on February 23.

The talks are to come up with a report aimed at calling off the strike.

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission will lead the talks that the Council of Governors and KMPDU officials will take part in.

Read: Appeals court frees doctors’ union officials, talks to resume

Also read: Shaved prisoner Oluga receives guests as doctors’ jail term begins

KMPDU officials set for release are chairman Samuel Oroko, secretary general Ouma Oluga, treasurer Daisy Korir, deputy treasurer Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro.

Health CS Cleopa Mailu and his PS Nicholas Muraguri told the Senate Health committee that they will ensure the strike ends.

Mailu earlier accused Muraguri of insubordination during talks, saying he pulled out of the mediation team he set up.

Read: Mailu accuses Muraguri of insubordination during talks to end doctors’ strike

Also read: Sorry for insubordination during doctors’ strike talks, Muraguri tells Mailu